The term Industry 4.0 was born in 2011, at the Hannover Fair, and refers to the
fourth industrial revolution
. We are currently experiencing the biggest technological revolution in history and solutions must emerge to merge the real and digital worlds. The Connected Industry or Smart Industry allows the interconnection of different elements of a production chain to achieve knowledge that should be used to improve the operation of the company at almost any level.
And for Industry 4.0 to become a reality, Big Data must exist. In this article we tell you what it is and how it fits with the industry of the present and, more importantly, the future.
What is Big Data?
The term refers to large volumes of data that interconnected devices generate automatically. With the Internet of Things (also known as IoT for Internet of Things), devices, robots, machines and computer systems produce a huge amount of data just because they are working.
This data, in isolation, might not mean anything, but analysed and structured in the right way, it provides very relevant information about how things work and how they interact with the real world.
When we said that the amount of data being produced is enormous, we weren’t kidding. Big data is considered as such from 30 Terabytes, and this data is not structured, so it cannot be analysed, processed or managed with conventional statistical and database technologies.
As a general rule, data that is considered Big Data has the following characteristics: volume, velocity, variety, veracity and value. And these five characteristics create 5 challenges for companies: how to store this data (volume-storage), how to process it quickly so that it is relevant and up to date (speed-time), how to collect it efficiently (variety-collection), how to know which data is relevant and which is not (veracity-quality) and how to take advantage of it (value-utility).
Big Data and the agri-food industry
Industry is moving towards automation, and the agri-food sector is no exception. Thanks to the use of machines in the field, in factories and in supermarkets, food production is becoming more efficient.
Among the elements susceptible to automation in the agri-food industry include e.g. the automation of the packaging chains, the product triage, the automated irrigation, the harvesting with machines, the assembly/bottling/packaging lines, the autonomous vehicles that circulate inside the warehouses, the elevators that place the pallets in large distribution warehouses, etc.
In this way, thanks to the collection and processing of the data generated during these processes, it is possible to optimize the operation of companies at different levels. For example:
- Warehousing processes can be improved thanks to sensors and mobile devices that report on the stocking and placement of each product, performing quality controls and proposing optimized routes for production or assembly.
- Preventive maintenance can be carried out, as the devices are capable of detecting faults in the usual patterns of operation, which could be a warning of a fault in the machinery which, if dealt with quickly, will not end in a breakdown.
- Bottlenecks can be eliminated by identifying performance issues.
- Processes such as irrigation, greenhouse temperature, etc. can be automated, because thanks to the collection of huge amounts of data, AI or artificial intelligence comes into play, capable of making decisions according to pre-established patterns to keep the crop in perfect condition.
The agri-food industry 4.0 is here to stay, along with the Big Data that is associated with it and that is growing exponentially, creating opportunities for improvement and optimization with each new bit of information. If you want to be competitive and make the most of your company’s resources, join the fourth industrial revolution.